Do we all need to follow a plant-based diet to save the planet?

September 11, 2019

I read recently that there are four main things that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. One of these things is to follow a plant-based diet (if you’re interested, the other three are having one less child, getting rid of your car and ditching air travel). But do we all need to become vegan to have a positive impact on the planet?

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

I think I’ve been quite open about how up until recently, I’ve been a pretty ignorant human when it comes to sustainability. Choices I’ve made have been almost completely based on convenience, without any consideration to the impact on our planet. That’s not to say that I’ve never been concerned about climate change or the state of our oceans; I just never really made the link between me buying a single use plastic bottle, for example, and the amount of plastic in the sea. I assumed that because I used my recycling bin and didn’t leave my rubbish on the beach, I was being a good citizen. Now I understand that my responsibility to our world is far greater than that.

Following plant-based diet is better for our planet than being an omnivore. I know that; you can’t argue with science. But as a family who ate meat seven days per week, switching to a fully plant-based diet frankly seems unfathomable. So should we just carry on as as we are, if not being vegan means that we aren’t going to make any difference?

Well, I don’t think so. Over the past few months, we’ve worked to reduce the amount of meat in our diets. We now follow something that resembles a flexitarian diet, eating more vegetarian and fish-based meals. If I roast a chicken (which I do roughly once per fortnight), I’ll make it last for three evening meals, for all four of us. We eat pork maybe once per month, and beef even less often (and probably even less than that now that barbecue season is over). It’s not unusual for us to have three vegetarian dinners per week, now.

This large reduction in the amount of meat that we’re eating is bound to have a positive impact on the environment. Personally, I haven’t missed eating meat more frequently (although Matthew might disagree!) and would happily move to a pescatarian diet. If more people reduced their meat consumption, for example by taking on Meat Free Monday, the cumulative impact could be really positive. Lots of people making lots of little changes, can add up to something big.

How about you? Have you reduced your meat intake recently, or do you follow a plant-based or vegan diet? Let me know your favourite veggie or vegan cook books in the comments!

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